Because of the internet and social media, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with friends, even if they live on the opposite end of the Earth. But many forms of social media like Facebook simply make it easier to keep tabs on your friends rather than interact with them.
How many times has a friend told you something, and you replied, “I know, I saw it on your Facebook!” We get a lot of our news through Facebook without having to go out for coffee and spending time together. And there’s no shame in sharing news that way, nor does it mean you aren’t good friends if you learn about big news through the news feed. Facebook is a tool and it is an extremely helpful one for those who live far away from friends and family.
Recently I have moved to be with my LDR partner, and I had a good discussion about this with many of my friends, and we thought of a few ways to make sure we aren’t simply reading about each other on Facebook:
Keep a blog
I got this idea from a friend who relocated to Spain, and she writes a lot about her new job, Spanish culture and the sight seeing she has done. It is more work but a lot more in depth than status updates.
You could also co-write a blog with a friend based on a common interest, such as reviewing new movies together.
Send snail mail
This is harder than it sounds. Many of us are not in the habit of sending letters or cards, so it is hard to remember to do so.
If you use a calendar or planner, it is helpful to write reminders of birthdays and holidays and give yourself plenty of notice to send mail.
There is something exciting about getting mail that isn’t bills or junk, so after a few pleasant surprises you should have no difficulty remembering.
Send care packages
This is a little different from cards or letters, although it can include them.
I moved to the U.S., so I made a deal with a friend. I will send her a care package of items you can only get in the U.S., like Vanilla Coke, and she will send me things that can only be found in Canada, like maple cookies.
Care packages are a great way to share your new experiences with friends; you could post about a great new candy you discovered, but it is more fun getting to share some with those you left behind.
Watch a show together
It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the same time, but if you are getting all your news from Facebook, this gives you more to talk about when you do chat.
When you first move and don’t know anyone, trust me, you’ll want to talk to SOMEONE about the newest episode of a show you really like, and it serves as a weekly reminder to chat.
Start a online book club
In a similar vein, having a monthly book club with your friends can be a lot of fun.
Some friends of mine that I volunteered with suggested we pick a book a month and Skype when we’re ready to discuss the book together.
It may make it easier to agree on a book if you pick a genre, and either make a list of books each member has always wanted to read and pick randomly, or pick a newly released title in that genre. Even if you hate the book, you’ll probably have a lot to say about it.
Maybe you’re great at remembering to call or send cards, but if you find yourself slipping, these are just a few ideas to keep your friendships strong.